No deal on tax breaks in Springfield

November 30, 2011 9:28:16 AM PST
Illinois lawmakers failed to reach a deal that would grant tax breaks to Sears and CME Group. Both have threatened to leave the state if a deal is not reached.

A spokesperson for Sears says the company hopes a compromise will be reached because the timeline for making a decision about its future by the end of the year has not changed.

At mid-afternoon, it appeared a deal might happen. The Illinois Senate passed its version of a bill granting tax breaks to both companies.

"It's not a tax break. I think it's a tax correction," said Sen. Donne Trotter, (D) Chicago.

But hours later, the House destroyed the Senate bill by a 99-8 vote.

"Clearly we're at an impasse and so I think people are going to have to go back to the negotiating table," said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, (D) Chicago.

Hoffman Estates-based Sears wants a 10-year, $150 million extension of its tax exemptions while Chicago's CME Group, the state's largest corporate tax payer, wants its annual bill rolled back by tens of millions of dollars. Both companies threaten to leave Illinois if they don't get their way:

"Every corporation is going to see what we're doing and is going to be knocking at our door starting in December, January, February March saying give us a break," said Rep. Tom Cross, (R) House minority leader.

To offset the corporate tax cuts, the Senate bill included more tax relief for lower income individuals.

"It's important that we acknowledge the 99%," said Sen. Kwame Raoul, (D) Chicago.

"These mammoth companies, they want $150 million as a gift from the state of Illinois, that's taxpayer money," said Rep. Monique Davis, (D) Chicago.

But the Illinois Policy Institute says the controversial tax credit would amount to only $7.50 a year to the average family.

"Meanwhile, remember they took $1,500 from the average family with that income tax increase earlier this year," said Kristina Rasmussen, Illinois Policy Institute.

Democrat Fred Crespo, whose northwest suburban district includes Sears' headquarters, says the lack of a deal puts 6,100 jobs in even more jeopardy.

"I don't we can match the offer that they're getting from Ohio. Financially we can't match that," said Crespo.

CME Group has not commented on Tuesday's news.


The bill is HB1883.


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